A survey of 5,000 twenty-somethings at work, reveals that 80% of them believe creativity is necessary for business growth, but only one in four believe they get to practice enough creativity on the job. When Deloitte got the results back from their survey, they knew they had to make some changes. Many companies experience a huge gap between their current “old school” methods and their youngest team members. Two-thirds of the Gen Y respondents said that creativity was the reason they chose the job they did. Now, most say they’re “uninspired.”
Sarah McCann, 26, says creativity is pivotal. “I think it helps hold interest. A lot of Gen Y people tend to move on to new things quickly and get bored too quickly. Because there is so much information out there it is hard for our generation to keep still or keep engaged in what we’re doing.”
What We Do at Growing Leaders
So, let me share what we do at Growing Leaders to spark creativity with our young team members. We’re not a perfect organization by any stretch of the imagination, but half of our team is made up of engaged twenty-somethings. Here is what we try to do to keep them inspired to create and grow:
1. Trust them to create, build and manage a project.
When we hired Alysse, we had just launched a pilot program with Georgia Public Schools. She had just graduated from college, but we trusted her maturity, and put her over this project. The responsibility has kept her engaged. She’s met our every expectation and she’s been creative to problem-solve along the way. No regrets.
2. On a regular basis, allow team members to work on whatever they want.
We learned this from companies like 3M and Google, which give their employees a day a week to work on anything they choose. For instance, Jake is our Digital Engagement Coordinator. Many of his projects are based on his own initiative, as he literally creates the job we hired him to do.
3. Invite them into brainstorming meetings for upcoming projects.
Frequently, we host brainstorming meetings, and our twenty-somethings are key contributors. Recently, we planned a new Habitudes book, and half the ideas came from Brad, Katlyn, Jim and Chris, our youngest team members. They felt safe enough to use their gifts, offering ideas on how to connect with their peers.
4. Send them to outside events and conferences for their growth.
Two of our key twenty-somethings, Chloe and Alysse recently attended an event which specifically targeted “creatives” in our region. They were our only reps who attended, and they came back with written ideas and best practices for our team. Their perspective was broadened, and their creativity muscle was exercised.
5. Connect them to mentors in your organizational network.
We try to arrange meetings between our young team members and board members, as well as key business contacts in our city. We invite our interns to sit in on board meetings and have lunch with key leaders who often become mentors to them. We also have “Lunch and Learn” on Mondays, where we’ll invite key leaders in to share.
6. Host an Orientation retreat that sets tone for creativity and ideas.
This past summer, we introduced four new members to our team, all of them young. So we held an orientation at Winshape Wildnerness Camp, where we engaged in creative exercises and planning for two days. We rediscovered how laughter sparks creativity, as our minds were free and safe to roam and try new things.
7. Consistently introduce and launch new initiatives.
Each Monday morning, we have a “stand up” meeting to start the week. All team members, including interns, are given new projects to work on and complete that week. It forces all of us to engage in problem solving, collaboration and innovation—which keeps us all inspired and hopping. Responsibility fosters engagement.
8. Motivate them by setting the tone to feel like a safe community.
Finally, we believe that culture is paramount; it trumps everything in importance. At Growing Leaders, we foster community with collaborative projects and free meals, as long as you eat with another team member. One of our interns said it feels “like a healthy family.” I like that. Motivation leads to innovation.
Remember, if you can engage the creative spirit of a young team member, you get their heart along the way. They often become loyal and inspired.